Man of the day
Steve Smith's first Test ton was the standout performance on a rain-shortened day two at the Oval
Last Updated: 22/08/13 8:34pm
With those two matches being his only Tests since the start of 2011, it was far from certain that he would be able to hang onto his place throughout the England series.
But the 24-year-old, who started his career as a bowling-oriented all-rounder, has grown into his role as a middle-order batsman, epitomised by his innings on the second day of the final Test at the Kia Oval.
After the morning rain had finally relented, he began the day on 66 not out with Australia in a strong position on 307-4, but with centurion Shane Watson ousted along with Michael Clarke, the responsibility fell to Smith to complete the job.
And the right-hander stayed composed in the line of fire despite James Anderson and Stuart Broad enjoying plenty of movement in the gloomy conditions as England attempted to put the pressure on and force a middle-order collapse.
Smith lost nightwatchman Peter Siddle but stood firm alongside Brad Haddin to keep the scoreboard ticking over nicely, looking more and more assured as the knock progressed.
With his first Test century looming he could have been forgiven for getting bogged down in the 90s in the same fashion as Chris Rogers at Chester-le-Street, but Smith had no such problems.
With his tally on 94, Smith whacked part-time medium-pacer Jonathan Trott into the stands for a six in an impressive show of confidence.
He went on to reach 138 not out by the time Michael Clarke called for the declaration, an innings which could well be the turning point in his burgeoning Test career.